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APAC becoming the frontline for IoT, says expert

12 Feb 2016

With 8.6 billion connected devices and a robust digital infrastructure, the Asia Pacific region is swiftly becoming the “frontline for the Internet of Things”.

That’s the word of Manik Narayan Saha, SAP’s chief information officer for Asia Pacific and Japan.

Speaking ahead of the CommunicAsia2016 summit, Saha is sharing his predictions for the enterprise technology industry for 2016.

According to Saha, most countries in the APAC region are actively implementing digital initiatives so as to transform their nations into smart economies. While this presents innumerable opportunities for businesses to tap on, Saha says it is vital for companies to leverage technology and innovate faster, in order to keep up with the rapid adoption of all things digital.

IDC predicted that by 2017, 60% of the APAC top 1000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy.

In response to this trend, Saha says there are three must-haves to enable businesses on their digital transformation journey in 2016:

Live Enterprise: Flexibility is the name of the game

At the very core of businesses, today's digital era lies the opportunity to evolve into what Saha calls a 'live enterprise'.

From enhanced seamless and personalised customer experiences, to a more engaged workforce and supply chain, a 'live enterprise' essentially predicts and acts with the future in mind, rather than solely reporting the past Saha explains.

“This means incorporating agile business processes and possessing the ability to mass customise everything for every single consumer. It also is the ability to connect each colleague and asset to a single, intelligent and digital core system  -- one that can anticipate, simulate and innovate new opportunities on the fly,” he says.

"With one of the youngest workforces in the world, the Asia Pacific region is in the best position to use these technologies effectively in their businesses,” Saha explains.

“However, a region as diverse as Asia characterised by emerging and developed markets, not all infrastructures are fully developed and thus potentially slowing down growth,” he says.

“This is where collaboration between the private and public sectors, together with live insights and technologies, will determine the pace and success of digital transformation across markets.”

According to Saha, beyond adoption approach and collaboration, digital transformation and development of live enterprises have to drive from within the organisations.

"We have seen that the digital transformation can be driven either by the CIO or by the newly defined roles of a chief digital officer or a chief experience officer,” he says.

“What is most essential is that driving the digital core needs capabilities and skills beyond the traditional IT practice, and business savviness is a critical success factor," Saha adds. “For a truly flexible and effective system, the leadership has to adapt practices such as agile, bi-modal IT that can accelerate the time to value and provide a bridge between the desired outcomes and tools that could be used.”

Digital Business Networks as the new marketplace

Digital Business Networks will become the platform of choice for transactions and commerce, Saha says.

“In this marketplace, the responsibility to orchestrate the process into one which is seamless and integrated inevitably becomes the challenge,” he says.

“Just think about how social networks have changed day to day behaviour for individuals. Now take that concept, and apply it to the way businesses work together to deliver their products and services.”

Saha says Digital Business Networks will become a new gateway to the global consumer, and the collaboration between government agencies, multinationals, startups and entrepreneurs will determine the pace and success of its adoption.

Saha provides three tips for businesses to successfully foray into their digital transformation:

Define a digital transformation roadmap that clearly outlines the business outcomes and benefits to all C-Suite stakeholders, and gets their buy in.

Use agile methods to rapidly test the actual outcome versus the desired outcome and improve fast.

Security becomes priority

The Global State of Information Security Survey 2016 revealed that companies are becoming increasingly alert to cyber threats. Ten years ago, information security was largely seen as an IT topic. However, Saha says with digital becoming part of our everyday lives and implications of data losses critical, concerns have been elevated to the boardroom.

“In the future, when virtually everything can be connected to the internet, we have to recognise the security statement: Everything that can be connected to the internet can potentially be hacked.

“With Big Data - ranging from customer information, financial transactions, employee records to social media feedback, companies need to look at more effective ways to secure, store, and track the vast amounts of data that will be generated,” he explains.

Saha says the future of cyber security lies in combining solutions for pattern-based recognition of security breaches and ability to correlate large volumes of current runtime data, including network activity.

“For example, there are solutions that focus on identifying external attacks as they are happening,” says Saha. “The solution's pattern recognition functionality filters out anomalies such as suspicious discrepancies between a user's past and current behaviour, perhaps as the result of a hacking attack,” he says.

“What is promising is that the same global security survey showed that enterprises are becoming increasingly convinced of the value of data-driven analysis to protect their businesses,” Saha adds.

Saha says the key is picking a comprehensive suite of products and services which allow businesses to embark on a successful digital journey that brings all the participants solutions aimed at delivering a profitable, seamless and integrated experience.

“It is intelligent strategy, not solely technology that drives digital transformation,” he says.

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